Journal Article

Improvement of cold resistance and performance of broilers by acute cold exposure during late embryogenesis 1

D. Shinder, M. Ruzal, M. Giloh, S. Druyan, Y. Piestun and S. Yahav

in Poultry Science

Published on behalf of Poultry Science Association Inc.

Volume 90, issue 3, pages 633-641
Published in print March 2011 | ISSN: 0032-5791
Published online March 2011 | e-ISSN: 1525-3171 | DOI:
Improvement of cold resistance and performance of broilers by acute cold exposure during late embryogenesis

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The aim of this study was to fine-tune previous acute cold exposure treatments of broiler embryos during late embryogenesis to improve lifelong cold resistance and performance. Six hundred Cobb hatching eggs were incubated under standard conditions and then exposed to 3 treatments: control; cold treatment in which embryos were exposed to 15°C for 30 min on d 18 and 19 of incubation (30×2); and cold treatment similar to 30×2 but with 60-min exposures (60×2). Egg shell temperature (Tegg) and heart rate (HR) were monitored pre- and posttreatment. Upon hatching, hatchability, body weight, and body temperature were recorded. From 14 to 35 d of age, three quarters of the chickens in each treatment were raised under ascites-inducing conditions (AIC) and the remaining birds were raised under standard brooding conditions (SBC). The Tegg and HR decreased significantly in response to increased exposure time on d 18 of incubation. On d 19 of incubation, before the second cold exposure, the 30×2 group showed greater Tegg and HR than the controls, and during the second exposure they maintained these parameters better than the 60×2 embryos. No treatment effect on hatchability was observed. At 35 d of age ascites incidence among 30×2 chickens under AIC was significantly less than that among the controls (P < 0.01), and body weight of these chickens under either SBC or AIC was significantly higher than that of the controls. Under SBC relative breast muscle weight was significantly higher in 60×2 chickens, whereas the relative heart weight was higher in both cold-treated groups than in the controls. It can be concluded that repeated short acute cold exposures during late embryogenesis significantly reduced ascites incidence and improved growth rate under either SBC or AIC. These results may be related to a prenatal epigenetic adaptation of the thermoregulatory and cardiovascular systems to low ambient temperature.

Keywords: embryogenesis; cold exposure; egg shell temperature; broiler; ascites

Journal Article.  4989 words.  Illustrated.

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